Tell Me About It: ‘I had thought I wanted to marry her, but I have grave concerns about this as I think she is very controlling’
I have been seriously dating my partner for nearly two years now, but we are at a crunch point. I was thrilled to meet her as I did not think I would find someone so wonderful, smart and ambitious in the small world of gay relationships.
She is amazingly determined and has worked hard to create a career path that is aiming high, and she has already achieved a huge amount in that she has been offered a job abroad that is due to start in two months’ time. When this opportunity came up, it forced me to seriously consider our relationship and at the moment we are taking a break to think about the move. I had thought I wanted to marry her, but I have grave concerns about this as I think she is very controlling. At first, I thought it was just that she wanted to know everything about me, who I was with, where I was going and every thought in my head.
Initially, this felt like I was the most important person in the world, but it has worn me down and I now feel that she wants to shape me into her corporate partner and scrub off any wild or unpredictable parts of my nature. I love her, there is no doubt about that – she is beautiful, often kind and generous and she has a wonderful sense of humour, but I am questioning if this is enough and if I can take any more of the curtailing of who I am. I notice that I have been hiding where I am going from her in case of disapproval, that I am changing into more party clothes in other friends’ houses and that any slightly bold behaviour is now underground.
My friends no longer call me as they know I will say no, and they do not like having my partner around as they feel condescended to. Yet, I am so sad on this break, and I really miss my partner, but I have qualms about moving totally into her world.
It would be easy to make this break permanent if there were not so many really great things about your partner and this is what makes you consider staying in the hope that she will gain a sense of perspective and allow you to wholly be yourself.
However, you say she is trying to shape you into someone who will totally be in her world and be fully attached to her. This may be because she is full of insecurity and you are not, and perhaps this attracted you to her in the first place. You have a wild and unpredictable side to your nature that she cannot allow in herself but it both attracts and frightens her. Her ambition may be fuelled by this fear, and she might see status and financial success as offering a secure place from which to view the world and she would like to have you in this safe place with her.
The difficulty is that she thinks that curtailing you will resolve her fears (of rejection, future projections, etc), but of course this is not true and inevitably this behaviour will only grow and increase with practise and time. You cannot do another person’s personal development for them, but you can provide them with opportunities and support to engage with their challenges. You have an opportunity now in that the job abroad and the future of the relationship is at stake. It is not simply a matter of taking time out and hoping that some maturity develops, you need to lay out a pathway for possible re-engagement that does not have you as her monitor or corrector. If she is serious about giving the relationship a chance, then she can engage with self-awareness and self-development services abroad and you can agree to meet every so often over the next six months or so. These meetings are not just to ascertain her sense of self-knowledge but would also be for you to develop your own self-awareness in the intervening time.
It might be worthwhile for you to look at your own attraction to someone who has such a clear and strong path laid out for themselves. You could look at your own upbringing and see if there is any tendency towards rescuing others or indeed adopting the high moral ground. All of this will be useful to you in progressing this or future relationships. However, before you engage in this time of development, you may need to commit to fidelity so that the relationship stands a chance.
But, if this is going to be impossible, then end it cleanly now but do the work of self-examination so that you do not end up in a similar situation in the future.